Black Pus

Primordial Pus

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Little surprise that Black Pus should have a scuzzed-out, hyperactive, and extreme sound in general; it'd be surprising to expect anything less from Brian Chippendale of Lightning Bolt, and his fifth album under the Black Pus name is as frenetic as one could want from the start, thanks to "Ha Ha Havok" and its incomprehensible wailings and drumming clatter. Songs like "Hole in the Ground" also keep the feeling of Black Pus' own particular take on noise -- more screech and scrape via guitars than just the bass-driven blast of Lightning Bolt in general -- to the fore. But there's also a sense of testing out other approaches just to see what might happen. "Police Song," for all the fuzz, is also one of his most (for lack of a better term) groove-heavy numbers in any guise; there's a hipshaking and singalong feeling that's buried under echo and noise but not fully squashed. "The Wicked West" feels downright cheerful, a trebly celebration of something that sounds distinctly uncelebratory given the title. The contrasts on the quieter end -- in a relative sense, at least -- bring out the echo and sense of distance that is as essential to Chippendale's work as a forceful impact; a song like "Cave of Butterfly" feels like it's rumbling over a distant hill through a PA where only the drums and bits of the vocals can be heard. It's an embrace of aesthetic extremity as a point of approach that has and continues to work well. "I'll Come When I Can" ends the album on the quietest overall note, centered mostly around circular calls and cries that feel more Steve Reich than Steve Shelley. The introduction of "Favorite Blanket, Favorite Curse," where only voice and a distorted loop of something -- keyboard, guitar, another voice? -- plus a smattering of drums sets an intriguing tone, with more trudging rhythm later adding an ominous feeling of being crushed even as the full splatter-noise mania is revived.

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